Flogging a Dead Horse

I read and write fantasy and science fiction so I love a series of books as much as the next person. 13 books and counting for the Malazan Books (if you count the Esselmont books as well)? Not a problem. 13 (or whatever) for The Wheel of Time? I’ll get around to them one day. 8 Books for Chung Kuo? Loved them.

I don’t mind if it takes a lot of words and books to tell a story, because a story is as long as it needs to be. What can bug me a bit though, is when a story is finished and the author keeps going back. Flogging the dead horse because it made a lot of money the first time round.

Now, I admit I haven’t read anything beyond the first few, but Raymond Feist and all of the Midkemia books make me want to bash my head against a wall. I loved the first ones (except for the annoying 3 word sentence at the start of each chapter). But he just keeps going back and back to the same world. The result is a lot of books that have the same feel to them if nothing else. I’m not sure that Feist is any better at writing than he was all those years ago either.

The trouble is, he keeps flogging his horse because it keeps taking him to financially rewarding places. People keep buying his books. So maybe it’s just me. Maybe it isn’t dead at all.

(Edit– I also just remember another dead horse owner– Terry Brooks. I couldn’t actually get through the original Shanara trilogy and now it’s gone on the be 1045 books.)

But maybe flogging a dead horse isn’t the real problem. Discworld has been flogged a lot of times, but Terry Pratchett flogs it in such lovely ways and with such interesting sticks.

Tribes of the Hakahei is a 4 book series (or, really, a book I had to break into 4 parts) and it will soon be finished. Are there more things I could write about those characters? Of course. There are the elves and Calanendra. There’s the bit at the end where they find… But I shouldn’t tell you that. If you read Book 4 you’ll find that the crew of the Hakahei could go on forever. Will they? No. If nothing else I would soon get extremely bored. I might revisit them but I’ll only be dropping in for holidays. Or maybe bumping in to them in someone else’s story.

I don’t like killing the horse in the first place. I certainly don’t like flogging it afterwards.

The multiverse of Ananake, where Tribes is set, will have lots of stories. But most of them will come at you from completely different angles. The Brightest Light is set on the world where they make the Skyglasses. Shadow of the Dragon is set on one of the hakan worlds, but it’s one that isn’t visited yet.

No horses will be harmed in the writing of these stories.

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2 thoughts on “Flogging a Dead Horse

  1. There is a tradition in television series of actors “jumping the shark”, i.e. leaving the show before it stops being good. Unfortunately, for finanacial reasons I suspect, many authors do milk a series or idea long after the teat has run dry.

    In the case of Anne McCaffrey, I liked the first few Pern books but then the horse was flogged to death in the traces. John Norman did the same with the Gor stories although mamny people seem to enjoy the tedium of later novels. Against common opinion I believe Stephen Donaldson should have stopped before he started the Thomas Covenant series but if he had then I wouldn’t have anything to mock.

    Leigh Brackett returned to Mars a few times but due to the novelty of ideas and pace I still enjoy rereading them after nearly fifty years. Jack Vance’s short series such as the “Planet of Adventure” and “Demon Princes” seem a bit short but I believe he realised he had done everything worthwhile and then went elsewhere. Burroughs pushed Barsoom to the limit and then finished with John Carter going elsewhere for adventures. Therefore I agree with you, every story has its own length which may be a few hundred words or a dozen thick novels.

    To return to my opening comment, it is unfortunate that writers sometimes have to retread ideas for financial reasons which are made worse by how much books are sold for compared to how little the authors receive. Hopefully, your online approach may increase opportunity in much the way software has made professional sounding music releases accessible to any musician.

    • Bill

      I was hoping I’d be rich by now, rolling in money from all the donations, but that isn’t happening (though I’m sure it was a realistic goal (: .)

      So I’ve been looking into getting the books on Amazon sooner than I was originally planning. I was going to have all four available first, but now I think I’ll put the first one up in a month or so and stagger the ones after that.

      Those who donate will still be looked after but the books will be seen by more people if I go a more traditional ebook route.

      Of course, money will always come into it with writers (unfortunately), but guys like Ray Feist should realise that a lot of fans will follow them to another world if they write it. And if it’s written well they won’t complain and will stick with him.

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